j&f THE GAY GENIUS
self stood in a feathered coat at the top of the Yellow Tower, watching
them sailing below, looking like a fairy or like a Li Po reborn.
A fourth very important person came into Su Tungpo's life at this
time, the great poet-monk Tsanliao, who was probably introduced to
him by Chin Kuan. Curiously, throughout Su Tungpo's three-year stay
at Hangchow, Tsanliao—living at a neighbouring town—had remained
unknown to him. Tsanliao was too great a poet himself and had too
much moral elevation to be a celebrity-hunter. - He had only watched
and admired Su Tungpo from a great distance. From now on Tsanliao
was to become one of his closest and life-long friends.
It is possible to get a close glimpse of Su Tungpo at the mid-autumn
festival that year. On August twelfth, a grandson had been born to
him, and on this mid-autumn night he was feeling unwell and lonely.
Six days after the festival, receiving a poem on the mid-autumn moon
from his brother, he wrote one describing how he spent the night.
"Before the moon came up the mountain peaks were high,
A sheet of luminous white then blazed forth in the sky.
Before I finished a cup, the silver gate was ppened,
Cloud clusters billowed in retreat like falling waves.
Who could wash the sparkling eyes of Father Heaven
But with a thousand lotions from the Silver Stream ?
The moon now so serenely looks upon this earth,
And finds me cool, resigned, like an unruffled well.
In the south-west, meteors shoot across like bullets,
The white Spica used to shimmer bright in the east,
But scanning the eastern heaven, I cannot see it tonight.
Only roaming glow-worms vie in their fluorescent glow.
Who are there sitting on a boat on the ancient Pien?
A thousand lanterns scare the dragons in their lairs.
Out and in, the boats weave glistening chains of ripples,
Up and down, they float to the rhythm of the songs.
The fireflies flit and float against the distant hillside,
And the autumn wind sends up sparkles in the stream.
Too rapidly the moon declines and people disperse,
Coming home I ask for wine to have a look again.
The moon over the courtyard seems even more serene,
While crickets chirp among the grass covered with dew.
Lifting the beaded screen I find the inside silent,
Only my grandson is cooing before 'the window light.
At the Southern Capital be proud of your poverty;
How many men can sing about this autumn night?
Tomorrow at sunrise comes the usual round of work,
And this night will seem a dream flight to the moon."